Flying with children requires quite a bit of planning. A few of the biggest decisions you need to make are whether or not to take a car seat on the plane and how much connection time you need. With proper preparation flying with kids can be a fun and enjoyable experience for the whole family.
If you need to bring a car seat (for the rental car at your destination) you might want to consider checking it. Most airlines do not charge you to check car seats and strollers. Also they usually don’t count them toward your checked luggage. The aisles on an airplane are very narrow and bringing the car seat on board can be a difficult task. If you decide you still want to bring it on the plane, think about how you are going to carry both the car seat, your child, and any other bags you have brought with you. If you check the car seat instead, remember that the cargo areas of the plane can be very dirty and be sure to bring some kind of bag to wrap around the car seat. You can find lots of different car seat and stroller bags online.
It is always best to try to fly direct (non-stop) to your destination when traveling with children. If this is not possible I recommend giving yourself at least 2 hours to make your connection. This will give you plenty of time to find a place to eat, get up and down elevators, and even explore the airport. Many airports have playgrounds for the kids and some even have museum quality displays.
Things to pack in your child’s carry on bag include:
A sweater or small blanket (even in summer time airports and airplanes can be cold)
Over ear headphones with a plug in chord (some airplanes have TVs)
Coloring books and triangular (so they don’t roll) crayons or coloring pencils
A book or two
A few toys
A water bottle (empty water bottles can be brought through the security checkpoint)
Empty zip-top bag to put trash in
A tablet with games and cartoons (just don’t forget the headphones)